Today is Black Friday; the day that retailers usually get out of the red ink on the ledger books and into the black. Today is also the day that thousands – or is it millions? – of people will wait anxiously at store doors for the melee to begin. Remember the Mervyn’s commercials from years ago? Open, open, open.
I don’t like to shop in crowds regardless of the deals I might get. So, while I don’t know exactly what I will be doing on Black Friday I can tell you I won’t be going anywhere near the mall or any other store. Some people, though, take their Black Friday shopping very seriously. We’ve all seen the news reports on Friday evening of people brawling over the latest trends like Cabbage Patch Dolls, Teddy Ruxpin, Wii, and Zhu Zhu Pets. In years past there have even been people trampled and injured in the mad rush. I wonder if it’s all worth it.
Below is a little story I wrote last year for the Faithwriters Writing Challenge. I thought it adds a little perspective to Black Friday.
“Mommy, mommy, the car’s on fire!” David stared eyes wide as the smoke poured out from under the hood of the little blue Civic.
“No, sweetie, it is just hot and that is why it is smoking. Come on into the church with me to see if they will let us use the phone.” Megan tugged on David’s hand impatiently.
Inside the church she picked him up and sat him on a chair. “Now stay right here while I go over there to make a call.”
“Okay, Mommy.” David sat swinging his feet, watching a tall man put construction paper stars on a Christmas tree.
Hopping down from the chair David ran over and tugged on Sam’s sleeve. Sam smiled at the boy and handed him some stars. “Do you want to help me by hanging this on the branches down there?”
“Sure, what’s your name, mister?”
“My name is Sam. What’s your name?”
“My name is David, I’m five years old, Mom and I were going to the store when our car got hot and started smoking, I thought it was on fire but Mom said it was just hot.” David sucked in a deep breath after this revelation spilled from him.
Sam smiled and said, “Well, I am glad you were able to come in here so your mom could use the phone. I sure needed some help with this tree.”
“So, why ya putting paper stars on the Christmas tree? Can’t the church afford real, store bought ordaments?”
“Well, now David, this is a special tree. These paper stars are the Christmas wishes of boys and girls just like you.”
“Christmas wishes like when you sit on Santa’s lap and tell him what you want for Christmas?”
“Exactly like that. Each star on this tree is from a child whose mom and dad can’t afford to buy them presents.” Sam knelt down next to David.
“Then Santa comes and reads the wishes and brings toys and stuff to the kids?”
“Not Santa,” Sam hung another star on the tree. “These stars are chosen by the people of the church and they buy the presents.”
“But why would they do that? Don’t they want to buy presents for their own kids?”
“They do want to buy presents for their own kids, but they want these children to feel loved too. So, they go to the store and pick out presents and wrap them up. That way the kids have presents to open on Christmas morning.”
“Wow, I bet the kids on the stars feel really loved.” David grinned.
“Yes, they do! That’s why people take the stars.” Sam put the last star on the tree.
“When all the stars have been taken off, then the Christmas tree will be bare.”
“When it’s empty we will put store bought ornaments on it and all the people will bring the presents they bought and put them under the tree before they are delivered to the children.”
“That’s so cool.” David turned to his mom who had had just walked up. “Hey Mom, let’s take a star so we can buy a present for a kid who might not get a present.”
“David, we can’t take a star. Mommy can only afford to buy presents for you this year. Come outside to wait for Uncle Joe.” Megan pulled David towards the door.
“But Mom, if we don’t take a star a kid might get up on Christmas morning and not have anything under the tree.” David pulled away from his mom and ran back to the tree.
“David Michael Jones, I told you no. I can’t afford to buy toys for other kids. Now come on.”
David looked at Sam and then his mom. His eyes filled with tears. “Mom, these kids need to feel loved. Can’t we take a star? You can buy them something instead of buying me stuff. I want this kid to have my present. Please, Mom?”
Megan’s face softened into a smile. She reached down and hugged her son. “You are sweet to think of other kids. Pick a star and we will go to the store right after I get paid tomorrow.”
David grinned. He held his star tightly in his hand. “Nice to meet ya, Mister Sam. Thanks for letting me help you.”
Sam reached down and ruffled David’s hair. “Thank you for helping me. You have a fine boy here Mrs. Jones.”
Today I am thankful that I haven't had to go out to the stores on Black Friday.